NC House begins debate on Medicaid expansion bill next week

By: - February 9, 2023 12:55 pm
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The state House Health Committee has scheduled a hearing on the Medicaid expansion bill filed Wednesday.

Health care providers and patient advocates have been pushing the legislature for years to enact Medicaid expansion. It would allow about 600,000 people, many of them adults without dependent children, to sign up for health insurance.

The federal government will pay 90% of the cost of adding people who gain insurance under Medicaid expansion. The bill would have hospitals paying the rest.

Additionally, the state would receive a signing bonus of about $1.5 billion if the legislature approves Medicaid expansion.

The Republican-led legislature resisted expansion until last year, when Senate leader Phil Berger, formerly a staunch proponent, endorsed it. A Senate bill that included expansion, changes to the state’s certificate of need and advanced practice nurses laws passed the Senate but did not pass the House.

The latest House bill does not include provisions that were in last year’s Senate bill on certificate of need or advanced practice nurses.

Under certificate of need, hospitals and other health care facilities must get permission from the state Department of Health and Human Services before they add  space or buy major equipment. The law is meant to prevent duplication of services, but opponents say it is contrary to free market principles.

Hospitals strongly object to changing the certificate of need law.

The House bill would require the Department of Commerce to develop a “comprehensive workforce development program.” The Commerce Department and the state Department of Health and Human Services would have to work to get people who use Medicaid and other social services programs connected to workforce development.

The House Heath Committee is set to hear the bill at 10 am Tuesday.

The Care4Carolina coalition, which has been advocating for expansion for years, celebrated the bill in a statement.

“The statewide Care4Carolina coalition applauds the leadership of the North Carolina House for introducing a straightforward North Carolina solution to expand Medicaid and close our state’s health care coverage gap. In introducing HB 76, House Leadership has demonstrated their commitment to helping hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who are currently in the gap, including working parents, small businesses across the state and 14,000 of our veterans.”

At a legislative breakfast on mental health last weekend, Republican legislators predicted expansion will pass this year. They are talking about how to spend the signing bonus.

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Lynn Bonner
Lynn Bonner

Investigative Reporter Lynn Bonner covers the state legislature and politics, as well as elections, the state budget, public and mental health, safety net programs and issues of racial equality.